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Also known as contract electronics manufacturers (CEM).

The industry has origins in the USA in the early 1970's. At that time a number of multi-national OEMS decided to outsource their manufacturing requirements to 'contractors' in order to reduce overheads and improve ROCE.

In some cases this involved the OEM even transferring assembly equipment to their chosen partner. Initially materials were issued to the contractor on a free issue basis but as the industry matured over the next 10 years or so it became the standard for contractors to start procuring their own materials.

EMS providers provide a wide range of facilities today including:-

  • Design Support
  • Material Procurement & Buffering
  • Kitting
  • PCB Assembly
  • Electro-Mechanical Sub Assembly
  • Test
  • Final Assembly
  • Kanban & Configure to order
  • Packing & Fulfilment
  • Logistics

As the industry has developed, specialist or niche contractors have developed which focus either on prototype, specific market sectors, types of volume, complexity or end to end solutions.

Contractors are now the major electronics manufacturing companies in the world and are typically broken down into three main types:-

Tier 1

Global EMS providers with true global reach with multiple locations across the worlds major industrialised continents. Typical companies in this tier include Sanmina-SCI and Flextronics.

Tier 2

International EMS providers with locations on multiple continents. Typical companies include Partnertech.

Tier 3

National or local EMS providers with sites in one country. Typical companies in this tier include Kingfield Electronics Limited.

Contract Manufacturing Topics


EMS Companies

Northern Hi-Tec Ltd
Contract Electronics Manufacturer

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Guide Written by Paul Wilson

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